28 January 2016

ObserVation: Her Stash and Me

ome of you may have caught on from my previous posts that I have my Stash in the cellar. It’s not really hidden (difficult with the volume it takes up, especially the shoes) but is sprinkled between the chaos that is indirect a smoke screen for Mrs.A as well as the normal chaos that reigns in our cellar. 
This chaos makes it difficult to find something at the best of times and in general it’s not advisable to put a unprotected hand in a box or case without peering in before(-the-)hand, something just might bite back. I won’t say it has Indiana Jones mantraps, or woman traps for that matter, it’s just dangerous if one is not experienced with the landscape, pitfalls… ok traps.  
Wanting to go into the cellar and explore usually means advanced terrain training, a backpack and extensive blood tests upfront.

I will mention again that Mrs.A is completely in the dark about Abigale. Well, let’s say as far as I can tell that is. We have been together over 40 years and although it’s no guarantee, I think I would have got the vibes about it if she knew. This means I have very little time to dress and become one with the rest of me and enjoy it. 
On the rare occasions I am alone at home, it’s not more that about 4 hours. With a 4 hour stint I try and limit dressing activities to about 2 hours or so, allowing the rest as a ‘Surprise I’m home!’ safety window to follow. This activity window is just not enough time to get completely dressed and un-dressed, the whole works. 
For a boy yes, for a girl with my experience definitely no! Unless, that is, I restrict my activities to one or maybe two aspects of getting ready and then unready. For example the last stint was focused on trying to create a passable bust and cleavage.
 
[Ed: more in a separate post with pictures]
 
I’m quite spontaneous in things I do around the home, 
usually to the dismay of Mrs.A, especialy when it comes to clearing up. Something can start off as harmless that ends up as a major (re)construction project. When we were living in an apartment, I got it in my bonnet one year to clear up a 'few things' in the living room late one Sunday. After Mrs.A had gone to bed in total frustration at 1 in the morning, I was still in full swing rearranging the complete livingroom furniture, just about everything that wasn't nailed down!
[Ed: Moving the piano around the living room after midnight goes down so well with the neighbours living downstairs..]
Very true, especially when the neighbour just happens to be your landlord! 


Another time I took it into my head to spontaneously wallpaper the kitchen on New Year’s Eve with a snowstorm ranging outside. As we could not completely open the window after finishing to remove the almost tropical humid air, we decided to leave it a jar with the kitchen door closed. Bushwhacked we retired for what was left of the night. While slumbering, the temperature dropped dramatically and the window decided to get some freash air. The next morning on entering I went skating across the now ice and snow ladened floor landing in a pile of pots and pans. 

Well in this vain, late one Friday evening I decided to start to clear out the cellar and not just half heartily as for the last few years. Firstly because I just couldn’t stand the mess anymore and secondary I wanted to make space for an Abigale session on the Sunday morning as Mrs.A had a rehearsal meaning a maximum time slot was on the cards. Well of course it’s easier said than done especially after years of neglect (clearing out not dressing).
You may know the situation: move bits and pieces from A to B, then weeks/months later from B to C, then years/eons later Surprise! One finds the pieces and bits (in a different order) have migrated back to location A of their own accord! 
Well this time I wanted to breakout of this circulus vitiosus and really get things moving direction rubbish tip. So my strategy was to go blindly in and without any real plan just grab and throw.
At first it was like an adrenalin kick, an act of freedom, a weight off .. off something or other. Totally banal things like two dozen power cables from equipment long gone, boxes of indefineable thingamajigs, 386 CPUs, non-recyclable Christmas presents because we forgot to label them with the name of the giver, empty picture frames needing something or someone to frame, round-pined British plugs (in two sizes), heaps of odd chopsticks enough to play Mikado with, bits of IKEA leftovers following an ‘IKEA construction party’ ...
[Ed: IKEA construction party?]
You know.  
Invite all your friends over, give them either a screwdriver or a hammer and leave sets of Alan/Hex keys at strategic locations. Pin the instructions to the wall and while they are distracted - half of them wondering why they need a screwdriver and the other half banging like mad weird looking bolts in ill aligned holes - you leave for the pub and hope they are finished before last orders.

While sorting some of the things brought up the questions 'where in **** did that come from?' or 'Did I buy this? I certainly don’t remember!'. After a time my good intentions started to wane, I could feel myself physically holding back just before letting go and the delay was increasing. 

I try before a clear out session to enter the state of Mushin (no-mind) in preparing to ban any gremlins that may appear like 
you know you need to keep this .. this whatever it is’ …
you know it may come in handy someday, even if it’s still in the original packing crate from the last move 25 years ago’ …
you know if you throw it today, you will find a use for it tomorrow’ … etc. 

Are these thoughts ingrain or are they brought on by being bitten by a hording bug? 

Anyway the point is, when I start such a 'session' I must keep going until I drop or get told off, whatever comes first. As I didn't get told off (Mrs.A was glad I was out of the way, she knew where I was and that I could only get up to limited mischief) and even though I had slowed down in banning bits to the bin, the place was chaos pure by late Saturday evening. 

Sunday morning came and my ‘Abi alone at home’ slot was imminent. I usually try and offer to drive Mrs.A back and forth to the rehearsals so I can ‘control’ the begin and end of a slot. This allows me the maximum out of it before I get the ‘come and get me’ call. 
Doesn’t always work, as on this morning. Mrs.A wouldn’t have it, she thought she was doing me a favour and had arranged for one of the cast to pick her up. 

I usually get worked up when I know a session is coming. Thinking about what I want to wear and when the time comes trying franticly to find it in my stash boxes. After she left, I went down to the cellar and entered. 
The chaos hit me like a wave, just no space available to really girl it. 
I backed out headed for the kitchen and made myself a cuppa. On looking at the clock I sighed and decided to take my time and just catalogue my stash instead, it was about time to take stock anyway. 
I realised that I had just lost track of things. This is not surprising as some items only see the light of day while unpacking at work and when possible after smuggling them home into the cellar to be stashed. 

I’ll backtrack a little and tell you about my modus operandi when buying stuff for Abi. 
[Ed: She’s off at a tangent again! Watch that your tea doesn’t get cold!]
Ok.
 

Apart from over the counter a few lipsticks and pantyhose in the distant past, I now exclusively order everything on-line. I am envious of all you girls that can go out and buy in whatever mode you are, I just cannot do that. There are a number of reasons and not just shyness, but more on this another time. Buying on-line without having the opportunity to try it on first does bring its problems. 
My first hurdle was finding out what woman’s sizes I was, head to toe. Ok, there are sites that help to get a girl going and ‘conversion’ charts with bust-waist-hip measurements as a guide, but they are ‘only’ a guide. As with most clothing, male or female, the acid test is when trying it on. This means for me after unpacking and a seldom Abi session. 
As I mentioned I have everything sent to my work address, never home. Mrs.A would catch on quick enough with either asking outright what was in the parcel or from reading the tell-tale labels on them. 
With the stream of parcels arriving at work over the last couple of years from Amazon, Otto, NewLook, etc., I let it be known that I was the central hub for the collective buying craze of my family and friends. Why me and at work? Well the excuse was because there is always someone to open the door on weekdays 07:00 to 19:00 and take in parcels. This is in part true, only I’m the main culprit with buying for Abi and some non Abi stuff for home! 

I’m not that happy with NewLook’s packaging, they stick a short version of the invoice on the outside listing the contents so every nosy person can see what’s within (pic after removal). 
Luckily they don’t put the size on the outside, only with the invoice inside, otherwise the cat would be out of the bag as most of the staff know Mrs.A and can put two and two together and come up with something other than four... 

With Amazon I usually try to combine things, for example a book or DVD and an Abi garment, make up, wigs etc. My last combi package was a white satin corset and a book (The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage by Sydney Padua). I then unpack the book/DVD (leaving the Abi item in the box) and display it on my desk for anyone who is interested. Any Abi garments I would try on in the restroom when everyone had gone home. 
This works surprisingly well, after a time my regular parcel intake became routine and less interesting to the rest of the staff. It got to the point that any Amazon parcels automatically landed on my desk even if they weren’t for me! 
One time I just happened to be at the front desk when a parcel arrived. As I was signing for it, the courier realised it was for me. He was overjoyed that at last he could thank me personally in the name of himself, wife and kids for helping to keep him employed over the last year! I was a little taken back and thought he was taking the mickey, but I couldn’t see this from his face, he just smiled, I reciprocated, he turned and left leaving me wondering what that was all about. 
I know I buy a lot of stuff, but keeping courier families above the breadline is carrying it bit far!

With Amazon & Co they use plastic bags for clothes which is not a problem, but with NewLook (UK), they use them for heels (I forgot to say, the bag above has my latest heels (3 pairs) they arrived today!). This has lead more than once to the heels of the shoes working their way through their own packaging and out through the outer bag! I usually order 3 or more pairs at once, so I get the P&P free.
 
[Ed: well that’s her excuse!]
 

One day I got back from lunch and found my latest order on my desk. As I picked the bag up and turned it over there were two holes each with a high heel poking through! One was a 4 inch black stiletto (left) and the other, a 6 inch beige (right) with the hole large enough to see the whole heel, it’s a wonder the order survived the transport! 
If the person who put the bag on my desk had ‘manhandled’ the bag a while (there was enough time from the front desk to my office) and took a peek into the larger hole they would realise the shoes where not for small feet (e.g. Mrs.A). If the penny has dropped in the office I have had no hints. Knowing my staff if they got wind of my collection they would probably want a demonstration on an improvised catwalk! 

When an ‘Abi-order’ arrives I usually can’t concentrate that well on my work. I end up waiting for the day to end and hoping all the staff get off home on time, so I can try on the garment or heels. Sometimes one or two of them work late as they have to prepare for being on the road or in the air the next day. I then have to weigh up either holding out till the office is empty or going home with or without my ‘prizes’ and hope for better luck the next day. 
If I get impatient I can usually smuggle small items into the restroom cubical and try them on, hoping I’ve picked the right size. If they don’t fit I can then repackage and bring it to the post or collection point the next day. 
Shoes are more difficult to smuggle but when I do I can try them on for ‘fitness’, but the real test is to try and walk in them and not just stand around wobbling about or not. In this case I would leave them at work until a free evening to walk them ‘in’ on the offices’ 45 meter long corridor and wear them at my desk working late into the night.
 
[Ed: Working late? You mean either hanging out, pinning pins or writing your posts all with your heeled feet up on the desk!]
A girl has to have fun now and then… 


So after trying out the clothes and shoes it’s either repacking the items for sending back, rare but has happened. Or working out how to smuggle the new arrivals all at once, or in stages, home to the ‘safety’ of the cellar. This is not always easy to manage; sometimes the item(s) would have to stay in the car boot until I got the opportunity allowing me to make a ‘dash with my new stash’. 

And so after coming full circle we are now back in the cellar and my tea is cold ...
 
[Ed: I told you! I’ll go upstairs and brew a new pot; you get on with cataloguing]

 
Ok, so where to start?

Well, I decided to close my eyes and with a sweep of my arms I cleared a table ignoring the clatter of indefinable objects as they hit the floor. Luck was on my side no shattering of broken glass. 

I have 4 medium sized (18”x18”x12”) (audio monitor boxes from my studio) for clothes and 2 classical plastic storage boxes (20”x16”x8”) where I store makeup and wigs and about half of my heels. The rest of my heels have their own individual boxes (see right. For a full catalogue with pictures check out under the sidebar 'Side Show' ‘My Heel Collection’).

I would rather have all my heels each to their own box, but that’s not practical, I’ve reached a critical point where anymore ‘shoe’ boxes turning up would bring them onto Mrs.A’s radar. The ones in boxes take up quite a lot of space but are much better than in plastic bags stuffed all together. 
I have from work ex-envelope boxes that are ideal for high heels which need almost square shaped boxes compared to heel-less flats (see above and left).

Some of the heels as with my Dorothy Perkins came in their own boxes (see right). Of course clear storage boxes would be better for each pair. Or the ultimate storage; a dedicated wardrobe unit for them in full display all in rows! And all my dresses hanging as they should be in easy reach..
 
[Ed: Ok, ok keep your wig on! There is very little chance that this will happen as you know.]
Yes true, it’s a lovely dream though.


Here some of my heel boxes stacked to be stashed.
So I took the first storage box and systematically started to rummage. I sorted under-wear and shape-wear from the over-wear. Colours together if I could and packed it all under pressure again back into the boxes but with method (the creases ugh!).
With the heels I checked each box for content and noted the relocation co-ordinates. I didn’t mark them in any way with content just in case they got exposed to Mrs.A eagle eye. Even just numbering them was not on. I think I am a little paranoid with this.


RFID tagging came to mind as Sheldon does with his socks, but that was too much of a hassle, I have other high tech gadgets to play with. After packing everything again I reluctantly pushed the storage and shoe boxes even higher and deeper into the darker regions of the cellar and barricaded it all in with heavy almost unmovable objects. The shoes that came in their own boxes (see the two red ones at the top of the stack in the picture) I stashed right at the back.

This means in future it will take longer to get to anything than it did before, even though I now know roughly where to look. Maybe it’s just frustration or due to something deeper. Maybe clearing up = less chaos = more chance of Mrs.A coming across something. I must say it is all rather depressing, this secrecy whittles away at one. 
As the stuff I buy is quickly sold out, I usually backup a picture of the item from the on-line store so I know what and where I bought them. Not for cosmetics of course, they don’t normally have a ‘size’ that would go out of stock within days. As I had the opportunity, I took pictures of the heels which I could not find again in the net (see collection). 

It was high time to ‘get it all out’ and at least look and handle it all again and of course get mega frustrated about not having the chance to really wear it for longer than an hour or so, if that.

Well the couple of hours went by quickly and I was just finished storing the pictures I took to file, when the front door opened and Mrs.A was home.
I am now up to-date on what I have hidden away. Interesting that there were few surprises, which surprised me as I just can’t for the life of me remember what boy clothes I have and I open the wardrobe daily!


It looks like I have a different relationship to my girl clothes than my boys.

Well the cellar is still in chaos mode, will slowly make room to be able to walk in a straight line in my heels instead of the slalom I have at the moment. 

I was going to list my stash here, but thought it would be better, as mentioned above, I have put a page under my ‘Side Show’ area for the heel collection with pictures, stats and a comment.
[Ed: What about the rest of your wardrobe?]
I might get round to making a separate short list under ‘Clothes & Co.’ for the rest when I have time. 
But for now it's grab a pair of my new heels, see if the coast is clear and make a dash for the restroom..